The Danbury Board of Education heard from two parents Wednesday, one who wanted armed security in the elementary schools and one who doesn't.
The board decided it will look at long-term solutions for school security and quicker fixes. By long-term, the board appeared to agree it wants to finish the study by April, and the quicker fixes are steps the board can take to secure schools immediately.
Rob SanSeverino, who also attended the Jan. 3 Danbury Board of Education workshop on school security, told the board he has been circulating a petition that calls for armed police officers in all Danbury Schools.
Today Danbury has four armed police officers in Danbury High School and one each at the city's two middle schools. The whole issue of school security was raised after the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of six school staff and 20 elementary school students.
"I feel we're not prepared. We're not ready for it," SanSeverino said. Door locks, door buzzers, cameras. "It isn't enough."
Cindy Garnett, the parent of a middle school student and a high school student, said she also attended the Jan. 3 workshop, and she wants the board to take its time and make reasonable decisions. She acknowledges it can't plan for every possibility.
"I'm not in favor of guns in the schools," Garnett said. "I'd like to see the focus on the underlying issue. Mental health."
The board made no decisions Wednesday, but it appeared to accept the idea of a small task force made up of several board members, Emergency Management Director Paul Estefan, Fire Chief Geoff Herald, Police Chief Al Baker and members of the school administration and parents. The Task Force would work until April and make long-term recommendations.
Among possible options are hiring more "safety advocates," who would be unarmed people who walk the elementary school hallways making sure any visitors they find belong there. The school system now uses safety advocates in the high school and two middle schools. Another idea is to hire private unarmed security at all elementary schools, and that plan is now being tried. A third option is to hire armed private security guards. A fourth option is to hire fully trained and armed Danbury Police Officers for all elementary schools.
Superintendent of Schoosl Sal Pascarella said that while the whole idea of a task force might strike people as a delay or slow process, he said not this time. Any recommendation that comes out of the task force quickly will be implemented ASAP.